Sustainable clothing trends in 2021

The fashion industry doesn’t always sync well with sustainable or eco-friendly trends until recently. Numerous brands and distributors are not working together in ways that haven’t been seen before in the industry. This is all due to the fact that it is now even easier to reach potential buyers across the globe, and help build sustainable living practices in the fashion industry.

Resale of goods

This is a great eco-friendly and sustainable way to keep using existing products. It all originally started early on with the advent of eBay, as there were those that used it as a platform to help people get rid of items they didn’t want for cold hard cash. Unfortunately, there was minimal regulation and it wasn't until recently a slew of websites specifically opened up to handle the resale of fashion. TheRealReal is a great place to find authenticated designer clothing, especially handbags. Towards the end of 2020 – they announced a pilot partnership to work together to promote selling used fashion items. This then led to TheRealReal partnering with an additional eight luxury brands in 2021, with the similar tactic of working to find homes for existing pieces of fashion and working on upcycling certain products. Several other e-commerce giants have joined this imitative as well. Stockx, the premier sneaker reseller is in constant partnerships with sports-related brands to help promote a safe experience for sneakerheads to find their right items, and in mid-2021, Farfetch, the premier e-commerce marketplace for dozens of fashion brands, launched their own internal initiative called Farfetch Second life, to focus on creating a new marketplace for the used luxury handbag market. This helps promote a sustainable lifestyle combined with luxury fashion brands.

Circularity and sustainability in fast fashion

The above helps with the recycling or upcycling of designer fashion brands, but a major contributor in causing harm is large fast fashion brands that are offering more items on a global scale. Yet, they also understand their impact and are starting to work in building a sustainable lifestyle cycle. Uniqlo is a great example where it is now actively focusing on recycling its clothing. They focus on three main ways of sustainability;
• Recycling clothing to new clothing
• Recycling clothing to fuel (in Japan only)
• Reusing clothing to people in need (through donations of older clothing)

They work to handle everything in house, and every store is not only a place to buy but also a place to easily drop off any unwanted clothing items, helping to promote sustainable living. H&M – Another leader in fast fashion is focusing on a similar initiative but is investing into research and development to be able to separate the materials of blended fabrics back to their original state, to be then used again in creating clothing, closing the loop of requiring new materials to make clothing.

Both luxury and fast fashion companies are actively pushing ways to improve their sustainability in their own ways. They not only do this out of a sense of corporate social responsibility, but as these trends grow, they are able to offer better resale value for their products (and gain a better margin through partnerships of reselling the same item over and over again), or in the case of fast fashion, not always needing to source additional materials to make new clothing, or even make energy out of it!